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Contest April-May 2020 Short Story Contest Reading and Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 1, 2020.

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Which Story or Stories Do You Like Best? (choose up to four)

Poll closed May 31, 2020.
  1. Story One: "Bowl of Blood"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  2. Story Two: "Abomination"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  3. Story Three: "Awīak"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  4. Story Four: "Lost and Found"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  5. Story Five: "Return of the King"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  6. Story Six: "Fire of the Old Ones"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  7. Story Seven: "Prayers for Vengeance"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  8. Story Eight: "Tipping the Scales"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  9. Story Nine: "Praying for Reasons, Praying for a Purpose"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  10. Story Ten: "The Ritual"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  11. Story Eleven: "Blooded Water"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  12. Story Twelve: "The Bloodswamp War (part 1)"

    2 vote(s)
    11.8%
  13. Story Thirteen: "Ask and It Will Be Given"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  14. Story Fourteen: "Tzeentchian Rituals"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Paul1748
    Saurus

    Paul1748 Well-Known Member

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    @Lizards of Renown great reviews. Will you make a review for your own piece ? I like your story the most. I would like to know your own thoughts on it.
     
  2. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Thanks a lot. I’ll give it a go. :)
     
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  3. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 5 – The Return of the King

    As a Tomb Kings collector I was very happy to see them represented in the contest, thanks to @Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl

    TECHNICAL: The author makes good use of “changes of scenes” between the orbiting temple-ship and down on the planet below and does a good job of word usage to communicate what is happening through the storyline.

    There is omitted descriptions of surroundings as in other stories. Even a small amount of description of the temple-ship quarters would have made the story clearer, as it is described as mentally connected but all aboard the same temple-ship. Are they in separate spaces? A command deck reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise? (I would have liked that imagery personally). A little bit of description would have gone a long way on this point. Same with the house and twon that the protagonist is in. It is described at one point as sandy and from the names it seems like a AoS desert area, but again a little bit more description would have gone a long way. The description when the statue transforms were great (and also put across the authors liking for Settra!) and if this had been done for the surroundings I think it would have made a difference.

    I personally feel that you have to find a middle ground on descriptions. For me, I would want enough details that I can get a concept myself, but not to the point where there is nothing for ME to add to the story. I would want to give enough fuel to start the fire so to speak.

    Some of the actions that occur in the story seemed rushed. Almost like an old style legend, where it is not so much a story but a summary of what happened. This is fine if the whole story is that way, but when it is only part it makes this section seem "rushed" or "brushed off". “And, lo, Jesus rose from the dead on the morrow” which doesn’t really say what happened but gives you the general idea. “When the last of the daylight died, shadows fell across the mouth of the cave. Behind the boulder blocking it’s exit, Jesus knelt and prayed to his Father. The gravelly floor of the cave cushioned his knees and comforted him as he raised his eyes to the ceiling.” Etc. etc. A couple of sentences here and there giving a bit of meat to the action would also have drawn me in more and given me the picture of this place and how it felt to live there.

    As I keep stressing, I don’t believe I am the bee’s knee’s of writing, I am not a published author and this is simply and ONLY my opinion on how the story could have been improved. It’s also the same principle of “survey of one” which, for itself, is basically useless. Hopefully it helps. Otherwise, trash it. (If I end up being a international bestseller then I’ll come back and edit this post, until then it is merely the rantings of a very normal acting madman)

    The author does some characterization, but I also feel this could have been done more. Understandably with a short story, you’re not given a lot of time to do this so it is definitely a challenge. However, some references to being an orphan, or cast out from the desert tribe and taken in by the wizard would have filled him out as a character. I am a great believer in the idea of identification, meaning when I'm personally reading, I'm looking for a hero/heroine that speaks to me in some way. I avidly read all the Jack Reacher books, even though it has a somewhat repetitive storyline, as I love the characters unbending, steely sense of honor and justice. I'm a sucker for a story where a nobody manages to pull himself up by the bootstraps and saves the day. But the point is these are things I either admire or aspire to. To me, this makes a huge difference to the story.

    I felt the reflection of the meteorite was incongruous with what I knew of the character. The author has full license to change and empower, but this was not delineated. It also seemed odd that the Slann was able to divert the meteor to the planet’s surface but not to deflect this from the temple ship.

    The voice speaking inside the protagonists head I thought was done well. It was clearly formatted so that you got the idea that this was resonating inside his head, which also served to differentiate it from any other speaking.

    PERSONAL: The first thing about the story is that it is AoS. I find it difficult to warm to a story in this setting. Nevertheless, I was prepared to embrace the concepts but it is admittedly a bit of a set back for me personally.

    I like the concept of enacting a ritual to bring back the king of kings. I like Tomb Kings. I can only assume that Settra gets destroyed in the Old Times and this is the reincarnation (boo, hiss Warhammer End Times… Settra does not die, Settra rules! ;)).

    Without the technical point above handled (characterization), I found it hard to get into the story. I did not find it clear why the Conqueror was such a danger to the Slann. It seemed like, to me, a little more as to why this was happening would have given the story more depth.

    The story itself intrigued me. What was going to happen? At the beginning I obviously had no clue that this was Settra so I assumed a Daemon and also assumed the worse: that this was a tyrant in the making.

    I loved the reanimation scene. Well played my friend, well played. Great descriptions, wordage and adaptation.

    I felt that the ease with which the reanimated statue deflected a meteor, which then the Slann were not able to deflect (that is to say several Slann were not able to deflect) was not realistic to me.

    Overall, I feel that with a bit more characterization and a bit more plot to why the conqueror had to be prevented and this would have gotten a vote from me (AoS notwithstanding).
     
  4. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 6 – Fire of the Old Ones

    TECHNICAL: There is very little I have to say about this one. Technically, the descriptions were fantastic. They covered the surroundings, the actions, some taste of how each of the creatures featured in the story interact with each other. Fantastic stuff. Really great work @Infinity Turtle!

    The main thing I would say is it lacked any kind of drama. I keep belabouring the point about my “technical” critiques still being opinionated and maybe it’s getting a bit much now, but I feel it’s necessary. The last thing I’d want to do is curb someone’s urge for creation and imagination. Especially when I’ve seen many published short stories where I have been utterly unable to grasp why the author wrote what he/she did and the only thing more confusing is how come he got his/her books to sell! I can see what you did here, interjecting black powder technology to a low-tech civilization and the resultant confusion caused, thereafter attributed to a higher power. Fair enough and interesting. But not captivating.

    I follow an author called Brandon Sanderson. He helped write the final books of the Wheel of Time, which is by far my favourite book series of all time. Hands down. I’m also reading the Stormlight Saga which is his own epic fantasy series. He did a blog that I read and he did an entire piece about “the fabric of the universe being in danger”. When he first started out, he wrote whatever stories came to mind. His friends would tell him they were great, but what was the point? Where was the drama? It eventually became a catchphrase for him: “the fabric of the universe is not in danger” meaning there’s no attention grabbing scenario that would pull peoples attention.

    I think your story lacks this technical point. I’m not even saying that it would have to be Earth shattering, but something. Maybe the protagonist has fallen out of favour somehow with the Priests. Maybe his friends consider him to be unlucky after failed raids. Which are all accidentally handled when his sacrifice to the old ones results in an explosion of light and fire, thereby earning him the favour of the Old One Blab-Blah (whoever is responsible for fire… sorry @Scalenex I should have paid more attention in going through the lore sections :().

    All I’m saying is that if you’d had that, I would have used one of my votes for you, as otherwise I think you did a technically fantastic job.

    PERSONAL: Funnily enough, that’s what hit me personally as well. When I read the story and saw your descriptions I thought “here we go [rubs hands together] this’ll be a gud’un!”. And I did enjoy it, but the lack of drama or punchline kind of mellowed me out on it.

    You need to keep writing. You’ve got some serious talent sparking here. Remember me when you get big! ;)
     
  5. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 7 – Prayers for Vengeance

    This is one of two Stories of Renown for me. Nice one @Scalenex (and @Scolenex, as we all know that you're on his writer team).

    TECHNICAL: Technically, this was fantastic. It had enough description on each part, person and action that I definitely got a good picture of what was happening. The use of the first person perspective, but alternating sides I thought was a very smart move. I also appreciated the skill with which the author had weaved the storyline so that basically the same thing was happening to both army leaders. Very well plotted.

    My only point would be that the battle sequences were somehow hard to follow. I personally think that more detail could have been put into what was happening, possibly which part of the battlefield each unit was on, which would have made it a bit easier. I had to re-read several sections to make sure I was tracking with who was messing up who. There was a lot of carnage out there!

    PERSONAL: I really liked how the story related two separate races dealing with their losses and pledging vengeance. I thought it was very smart to show the same battle from two different viewpoints.

    I love a smart story. Give me a good twist any day, or just a clever way of looking at something. Case in point, the results of war. Carnage, giving way to loss, to hate, to vengeance and then loss again. An endless cycle which never ceases because the races, despite their differences, both feel.

    Excellent story and like I said a Story of Renown.
     
  6. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    @Killer Angel

    You've unleashed something here... I'm not a little bit obsessed with finishing the reviews, but I have to sleep now.
     
  7. hanskurt
    Skink

    hanskurt Member

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    Good stuff nice reviews!
     
  8. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Your reviews are entertaining as the competition itself.
    You're doing a great job, very insightful and helpful. :)
     
  9. hanskurt
    Skink

    hanskurt Member

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    ..........
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  10. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    But this is how the world works.
    1. practice makes you better at anything. That's why we have rookies and experts. There's really no point in arguing that… unless you're Mary Sue, than you are already perfect.
    2. people appreciate something done properly. Sure, especially in the field of arts many will side with the majority, but even there, as a general rule of thumb, the thing must be done right for the point it tries to make.
    3. yes, sometime recognition go to people that don't deserve it, but again, as a rule of thumb, skilled people are rewarded for their skills.
     
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  11. hanskurt
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    hanskurt Member

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    1. Practice can make someone better, but can also make them worse as well.

    also consider basketball players. Sure you could be 5.4 feet tall, and work super hard and maybe get on. But your at a severe disadvantage to someone who already started off being 7 feet tall. Or you could be a pianist and have short fat fingers. You could work really hard, but again your at a disadvantage to the man who had long slender fingers.

    Hard work can make you really good at something, but some people have to put in very little effort to become amazing at the same thing.


    2. Do you really believe this? What’s popular and what’s good are two separate things. I mean cardi b is popular, is she really good at what she does? Is what she does, even good in the first place?

    3. I think it’s mostly nepotism and other traits people have that normally reward them.

    I was sort of saying, the talented ppl don’t work hard at things, but most ppl would not be able to recognise talent anyway. So to get on work hard to become mediocre, and try to already know someone who can get you a job in your chosen career before you start putting the hours in.

    Or...

    just have fun and don’t take it to seriously. Ppl do their best, when they are not worried about what other ppl think.
     
  12. hanskurt
    Skink

    hanskurt Member

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    It may seem like I am contradicting myself with the sports analogy. In truth I don’t really know enough about sports.

    But I have heard that you can go to hoods in America and see Unknown’s as good as the nba stars. I can’t see why that would not be true. It’s true for everything else in life.

    maybe they are all 5.4 tall. And people only have an appetite for watching 7 feet tall basketball players.


    Same as football, I mean David becham. His looks made ppl believe he was world class footballer.

    im sure in Brazil, there are countless peles running around, who have 0 social connections, so remain unknown.


    Words like professional, famous don’t really mean much.

    If you look most famous people talk about hard work.

    lol hard work is digging holes all day for minimum wage.

    Or cleaning toilets. Picking potatoes etc.

    They say they had to work hard to create illusion. As most ppl believe in a just world fallacy, where good things happen to good people. People like the idea, that those ppl just worked so hard.


    Truth is, all of you in this contest have far more talent, then the author of 50 shades of grey. So hey, when you get your big publishing cheque, remember to send me some money.
     
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  13. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    As I stressed through my reviews, it is obviously my opinion and a survey of one. I'm not really interested in "being right". I didn't initially want to do any reviews as I HATE peoples creative impulses being squashed in any way. When @Killer Angel nudged me on the reviews, I had to think about my purpose in doing it. If my viewpoint and opinion helps the blossoming writers, then it is valuable. If it does not, then it's worthless honestly. (Until I become a international bestseller... If that happens, you guys better watch my masterclass ;))

    This is a highly sensible idea.

    I'll keep this in mind. ;)
     
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  14. hanskurt
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    hanskurt Member

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    Sorry for waffle,

    The RPG game that destroyed rpgs for me was Planescape torment. Chris Avellone I am not afraid to say is a true genius. At least in the field of fantasy/sci fi writing.

    After finishing that game, I knew I would probably never play another RPG game with a story that came anywhere close to it. What makes it so good, it’s incredibly complicated and yet also very simple at the same time. The real magic is the references to things in the real world, like the schools of philosophy, being represented by factions in the game.

    However what’s popular is crap like Harry Potter. Jk Rowling, even the name RIP off of jr Tolkien. All marketing.

    you have to listen to her sob story of how she had to work.so hard to write crap books and make a billion pounds or so.

    The thing is, some times the melody is only as good as the ear that hears it.
     
  15. hanskurt
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    hanskurt Member

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    No your reviews are good, and you should continue with them. Some people will find them helpful.

    I just wanted to counter balance, for maybe someone who didn’t win or get many votes.

    Doing these stories is like rolling dice, sometimes you roll 6’s and some times you roll 1’s.

    Sometimes the best thing to do for these competitions is to write five stories and just pick the best one and throw the rest away.

    Some people learn from their mistakes, and some learn from their successes.
     
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  16. LizardWizard
    OldBlood

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    Practice is not simply repetition. It is the mindful development of a Skill. Generally if you are taking a step back to take further steps forward then it is due to adding in a new skill to the mix which is previously undeveloped.

    If you are investing time purposefully and mindfully into the development of a skill set, so long as you have a good sense of the desired outcome, you should make headway towards reaching that goal.

    Basically, if you are producing repetition without learning then I would say you aren't practicing.
     
  17. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    @hanskurt there is a key, missing point to practice. Before drilling, you need to learn how to do something properly from somewhere (a book, etc.) or someone. Then you can start practicing under supervision until you're doing it right. THEN practice will further improve your ability. But I would say you would be doing periodic check-ups that you are doing it right.
     
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  18. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 8 – Tipping the Scales

    @Lium your first entry is a good one mate. Keep going!

    TECHNICAL: The author does an excellent job of communicating the demeanour of the Lizardmen. The descriptions of the characters and their speech both act to create the idea of intelligent lizards, scions of the Old Ones, going about their sacred duties. The characterization of the cameos was decent and Nakai specifically was excellent. Tehenhauin and Kroq-Gar/Grymloq were decent, but if I had not known who they were I would not have grasped them fully.

    The descriptions of the actions being taken was very good and did definitely pull me along the story. It suffered from a lack of adequately giving descriptions of the surroundings which would have made the image complete.

    To me the story lacked a purposeful punchline. Meaning that it had a storyline but there wasn’t some goal or sub-goal being achieved, disaster averted, or something. Rather than being a short story, it seemed like a chapter taken out of a book.

    PERSONAL: Okay, so I have a special place in my heart for special characters being included in stories. I thought all three (FOUR! Sorry Grymloq!!!) were very accurate representations of how these characters acted. I loved the destruction of the Skaven. Everything was believable and followed sequentially.

    I actually almost voted for this one, but the lack of some kind of drama or punchline to the story. It’s difficult to do in a short story, especially when contest rules keep your story under 2400 words (which seems like a lot until you start really getting into your story). The fact that this is a first time entry means I would like to retroactively give it a vote, as it is a FANTASTIC first time effort.
     
  19. hanskurt
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    hanskurt Member

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    Practise can make someone technically more capable, but it won’t make their subjective output anymore interesting.

    also technical perfection can seem even more boring if everybody else can do it as well.

    To say that if someone is talented they don’t need much skill, because it will mostly be their perspective that other ppl find interesting.
     
  20. LizardWizard
    OldBlood

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    That is not true. Practice helps with both technique and expression. You can practice specifically for expression vs technique. This is especially true in arts/humanities such as literature, poetry, traditional medium art, music, acting, ect. The same way that a more practiced and studied philosopher can learn to develop more nuanced threads of thought.

    You don't have to start off talented to become an expert. Perspectives can even be learned. This is often times referred to colloquially as finding ones "voice".
     
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